The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Die Swart Luiperd


I found this digest-sized photo-novel (comic book format but B+W photos with word bubbles) featuring the cat-masked "Swart Luiperd" at the recent NYC Collectable Paperback & Pulp Fiction Expo (which was great BTW, but I was too busy digging through boxes and juggling want lists to blog it properly).

There was a huge stack of digests featuring this character going at least back into the 40s, and spanning a number of popular children's genres (jungle adventure, western, mystery, etc).

Here's a few page spreads:
Die Swart Luiperd 1
Die Swart Luiperd 2
Die Swart Luiperd 3

I can't pinpoint the language and I can't find anything about the character. Seems like he was in the Zorro, Phantom tradition (though he may have flirted with super-crime--like Diabolik and Kriminal--at low points in his career).

The publication data isn't very legible but it seems to be South African in origin "Republikeinse Pers...Suidkuswegg 1322...Republikeinse Nousagenentskap, Empirewegverlenging S. Aucklandpark, Johannesburg".

Anyone know more about the character?

23 comments:

John Klima said...

If it's from Johannesburg, then that should be Afrikaans, which is similar to/derived from German/Dutch. Which is exactly what that looks like to me.

So, a cat-headed, South African, crime-fighting comic? Sweet!

William Smith said...

Thanks Mr. K. I was guessing German or Dutch but I wasn't making any headway. I should have made an offer on the whole stack because the evolution of the character was very cool. Maybe I have the dealer's card somewhere...

Boer said...

Hi, there! This was indeed a very popular photo story during the late 60's through to the 70's in South Africa. As an Afrikaner (speaking Afrikaans)and South African, the way you stumbled upon this, is very interesting! Haven't seen the "Black Leopard" in many years.

Brendan said...

Hey,

Yup that is Afrikaans. Grew up reading them. The books are about a farmer who goes travelling through Africa and uses the mask to disguise himself whenever he encounters any locals. Animals, treasure, adventure abound. He has two pet cheetas which used to be seriously cool. There is also a range of non-pictorial novels (of which I own just about the entire series).

Used to love them.

The books are pretty rare by the way. I bought my last copy in the early 80's and haven't seen any since.

William Smith said...

Crap! Again I wish I had purchased the whole stack.

Thanks for the info. Someone should do an English language collection.

Koos said...

Yes, south africa, i read them as well, very cool! I also remember "Die Wit Tier" and "Ruiter in swart", which is different characters but similar type of books. I googled to see if i can get some for my son as he is into Tin-Tin(like we say "local is lekka (aka good)" and landed up here. Interesting indeed

millioneurodare said...

Wasn't there another one called Rocco De Wet or something?

Deon Mocke said...

Yup, South Afican!
But I would like to distinguish between TWO "Swart Luiperds".
The paperback that you have spreads of was a gunslinger-type hero. Similar to the Lone Ranger. His real name was Ben. Can't remember the surname though...If I remember correctly he was part of the Police force albeit secretly.
The other "Swart Luiperd" indeed was a "boer" from the Northern Transvaal. But his alter-ego was more Tarzan-like. Although not as perfect.

Riaan Louw said...

Hi there everyone!!!

Yes, this is definitely a South African comic, actually I grew up on these books, but not the pictorial novels, we had the books without the pictures, I still do have some of them, but they are very old. Die Swart Luiperd is actually a very physical farmer, he is very athletic and extremely good in gymnastics, the character is very Tarzan like, only more civilized, wearing clothes and can speak all the native languages. He is also very good with all types of wild animals and can use the nature do survive and do all sorts of things to fight enemies and to navigate through jungles, when he is not riding his well self trained horse, he is swinging through trees on vines and jumping from tree to tree. His weapons of choice is a bow and arrow in which he is sufficiently good at and a knife and a whip. His real name is Leon Fouche and his wife Susan and his son Ben. He has blue eyes and black hair and is well build and tall, he always wears a black spandex suit which makes his muscular physique stand out and then the black leopard head mask which he wears as a disguise and also to make his native enemies fear him more. He has two leopards, Simson and Spikkels which he trained to react on his voice and commands and they are his loyal friends, also he has a black stallion called Donker, also trained by him to be as loyal as the two leopards. Other skills include him being able to go for days without any sleep and fearless and brave.

I never were fond of the gun slinger version of the story, but the original Swart Luiperd was created by Braam Le Roux.

These books where the best adventure stories you would ever find!!!

Regards

Riaan Louw

Riaan Louw said...

Hi there everyone!!!

Yes, this is definitely a South African comic, actually I grew up on these books, but not the pictorial novels, we had the books without the pictures, I still do have some of them, but they are very old. Die Swart Luiperd is actually a very physical farmer, he is very athletic and extremely good in gymnastics, the character is very Tarzan like, only more civilized, wearing clothes and can speak all the native languages. He is also very good with all types of wild animals and can use the nature do survive and do all sorts of things to fight enemies and to navigate through jungles, when he is not riding his well self trained horse, he is swinging through trees on vines and jumping from tree to tree. His weapons of choice is a bow and arrow in which he is sufficiently good at and a knife and a whip. His real name is Leon Fouche and his wife Susan and his son Ben. He has blue eyes and black hair and is well build and tall, he always wears a black spandex suit which makes his muscular physique stand out and then the black leopard head mask which he wears as a disguise and also to make his native enemies fear him more. He has two leopards, Simson and Spikkels which he trained to react on his voice and commands and they are his loyal friends, also he has a black stallion called Donker, also trained by him to be as loyal as the two leopards. Other skills include him being able to go for days without any sleep and fearless and brave.

I never were fond of the gun slinger version of the story, but the original Swart Luiperd was created by Braam Le Roux.

These books where the best adventure stories you would ever find!!!

Regards

Riaan Louw

Belinda said...

Yes, Its Afrikaans. Love to read them again. Does any one know where I can get any of these books?

Scorpion said...

I loved these books! A number of the more popular ones were called 'Die Swart Luiperd', 'Die Wit Tier', 'Grensvegter', 'Die Ruiter in Swart' en 'Kid die swerwer (also Kid Colt)'. If anyone still has copies of these please me know as I'm looking for a few copies. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I used to love these books. There was another one called Grensvegter. His name was Rocco De Wet who was fighting a war against terorists in Angola. The cover page read like this... " Man is hy, vegter is hy, genadelose vergelder is hy. Hierdie boerseun wat man alleen die vyand van sy land uitsnuffel en verdelg". I still remember it so well i used to say it over and over in my fantasy world cause i was so inlove with the character.

Regards

Muksie

Anonymous said...

Do you still remember Die wit tier, (the white tiger) SA's version of Rambo, Kid Colt and Ben Brandt, Ruiter in Swart, Tanya, ohhh that body

Lioda's art said...

Hi. I live in SA and yes these are definately Afrikaans language picture books. There were many characters such as Ruiter in Swart (rider in black), Tessa, one about a doctor, not sure of the title and a few more of young love. One of my friends used to be one of the girls fotographed with Ruiter. They were intended to be "sexy" but above bord novels as most of the girls appeared in high-cut bikinis in them. I would love to get my hands on one of the Ruiters to blow an image of her up on a blockmount as a present for her...Let me know if you have any pictures of the Ruiter in Swart Books.
Thanks Lee.

William Smith said...

Hi Lee,

Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I don't have any more of the Afrikaans photo-novels but I may see the dealer again soon and I'll pick up his entire lot. If you can get your friend to talk about the experience of working in the industry I'd love to run it.

Regards,
Will

Roelof said...

Hi there, can anybody help. We are currently revamping an old restaurant and is in desperate need of printing material(blow up images) of the "old heros" Wit Tier, Ruiter in Swart etc. As a youngster I was totally fascinated by those guys and want them to be relived in the restaurant. Can antbody help with a lead?Thanks Roelof

William Smith said...

Roelof,

Let me have your contact info and I'll repost your image request.

Anonymous said...

Hi
As I used to "act" in these photostories in the 80's, I did a one page website about it:
http://www.diannesweb.com/pstories.html

There was a TV documentary called "The Glow of White Women" by Yunus Vally about his experience growing up in South Africa and how he fantasized about Tessa. It was aired on SABCTV in 2007.
regards
Dianne
dianne@diannesweb.com

FrontSeat said...

I used to like reading these little comic books when going to the John. usually when I left it was a few pages lighter.

Hergen Junge said...

Die Swart Luiperd and die Gresnsvegter were part of the Apartheid War Propaganda. The border fighter (Grensvegter) was a Boer Rambo fighting Cuban communists in Angola. He was often caught, confronted with immediate death but then found a - say - East German damsel admirer who would rescue Rocco in the last moment. That secured her Rocco's attention and a holiday at the beach in Durban. Fortunately Rocco de Wet did not win the war and the Cold Wat any more than Rambo won Vietnam.
So bad and ludicrous it was almost good.

Hergen Junge

Anonymous said...

Jacques
Just a little piece of useless info, but every South African male that's ever done national service (like myself) will testify to this. If any soldier seemed a bit over zealous he would jockingly be refered to as: "Rocco" or "G.V." Short for Grensvegter. It's amazing, I just
realised, he's much older than Rambo! He had the weirdest gun though!

Alida said...

The doctor's name was 'Dr Conrad Brand'...another book was called 'Saal 10'...meaning 'Ward 10'.